Isavia ANS ehf., Reykjavíkurflugvelli, 102 Reykjavík /
Isavia ANS, Reykjavik Airport, IS-102 Reykjavik, Iceland
Sími / Telephone: + 354 424 4000 

AIC A 006 / 2017
Effective from  28 APR 2017
Published on 28 APR 2017

Flug við vetraraðstæður /
Winter flying

Content Responsibility: Icelandic Transport Authority

1 Winter flying

1.1 Flight preparations

There are a lot of things to consider as winter approaches. History teaches us that many incidents and accidents could have been prevented during winter flights if pre-flight preparations would have been appropriate.

Aircraft operated over territories in which search and rescue operations would be especially difficult shall be equipped with such signalling devices and life-saving equipment, including survival equipment, as appropriate to the area overflown. Regulation No. 237/2014 on the operation of aircraft provides for basic equipment on board aircraft. The Regulation is accessible on the Icelandic Transport Authority's website.

There are examples of pilots on overland flights during winter who are wearing light summer clothing that neither conforms to the above Regulation nor common sense.

It is important that pilots familiarise themselves with the information contained in the aircraft flight manual on flights in winter conditions. It is also important that pilots are aware of weather conditions and forecasts before taking off. It is important that pilots obtain information on the conditions at destination aerodromes and have the appropriate survival equipment on board.

During the years 2002 to 2015 at least 11 aircraft accidents have occurred in Iceland in winter conditions where the pilot's preparation and decision-making were a contributing factor in the above accidents and incidents.

1.2 Conditions

White-out, slippery conditions/snow at place of intended landing, cryoturbation (frost churning) on runways without foundation, intermittent snowstorms, icing, etc., are contributing factors.

White-out can occur in drifting snow, snowfall and when the distribution of light on the snowy ground forms no shadows. White-out is unpredictable.

The conditions on snow-covered runways can only be inspected on the ground but impossible to assess from the air.

Cryoturbation can form during freezing conditions on runways without foundation. Holes may be concealed although the surface looks smooth. The surface of such runways can also become dangerously soft when the temperature is well above freezing point.

In squally snow showers during local flights, it is sensible to fly on the windward side of the airport, if conditions allow, so as to be able to retreat from the snow shower and land. There are some examples of unexpected cross-country flights when pilots have had to retreat from squally snow showers located between them and the airport.

It is impossible to reliably assess aircraft altitude above snow-covered land, water and dark sand and it is therefore unreasonable to rely on own judgement. It is necessary for pilots to familiarize themselves with elevation on aeronautical charts and verify against the altitude.

It is especially important to carefully prepare the flight of aircraft which has been stored outside. Ensure that there is no icing that can affect aircraft performance and instruments. If the plane is stored outside with small amount of fuel in the tanks, condensation can form on the inner surface of the tanks which then condenses into water in the fuel.

In calm weather on cold winter days, temperature in cruising altitude above the tropopause can be somewhat higher. In such situations, conditions for freezing rain can form.

It makes sense to submit a flight plan with ATS, although this is not required, according to AIP ENR 1.10.1 to ensure preparedness services.


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